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Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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The Basketball Champions League is contagious


ZAGREB (Croatia) - Another week in the books, another week to confirm that the Basketball Champions League is so easy to fall in love with. The games are getting closer with each passing week, and I feel like I need another pair of eyes to stay awake on the help-side and cover everything.

On Tuesday, we had eight games, and seven of those were played at the same time. Covering the Live Blog duties, I was thinking to myself that it makes sense only to focus on the close games, and just let the one-sided affairs slide along. But, Basketball Champions League being Basketball Champions League, it was complete madness.

The dream of 60 percent

Six of the eight games played on Tuesday finished in single digits. The remaining two saw AEK storm to a 10-point win late in the game against Dijon - arguably the game of the week - and UNET Holon were in trouble for three quarters of their rendezvous with Opava, which got me counting.

Season 2016-17, the first one, saw 128 of our 280 Regular Season games finish in single digits. That's 45.7 percent, according to my calculator. Season 2017-18, the second one, saw 118 of our 224 Regular Season games finish in single digits. That's 52.7 percent.

Season 2018-19, still in early stages, saw 34 of our 64 Regular Season games finish in single digits. That's 53.1 percent, more than half, and keeping the growth going. Ideally, it would be awesome to get to 60 percent of the games decided by less than 10 points, and everybody falling in love with our competition.

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.@JanSpan from the parking lot. ICE COLD ❄

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Because there are dramatic finishes happening throughout Europe every week. There are unreal coaching potentials like Raoul Korner or Igor Milicic or Kazys Maksvytis just waiting for their big break. There are players like Kevin Punter who grew from a Rosa Radom rookie to a scoring force like no other in the entire competition. There are players like DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell who excelled in our first season, while playing for Bakken Bears, and is now a member of the Denver Nuggets. 

You don't have to have a "big" name to have a big competition. At least that's how I see it, and why I love the Basketball Champions League. And why I loved FIBA SuproLeague in 2001. And why I enjoy Croatian Second Division soccer games. Love that good old romantic feeling of everybody getting a chance to play and prove their worth.

Contagious

Speaking of which, seems that the drama of Basketball Champions League is rubbing off to other events. There were eight games in the Croatian Soccer Cup this week, the one I covered went to extra time - of course - and was decided by a goal in the 119th minute - of course. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably...

Weekly Italian basketball appreciation post

Dejan Kravic shoots his free throws one handed. And is also the reason why Virtus Bologna have an absurd league leading percentage of blocks at 9.8 - that's fancy way of saying Bologna block every 10th possession of their opponents.

 

When a moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie

Amar'e Stoudemire had a game-high 24 points for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem against Montakit Fuenlabrada, in just 13:16 played. The big guy is the first player to score 20+ points while playing less than 15 minutes in a Basketball Champions League game. The big guy is the first player to have an efficiency rating greater than 20 in a Basketball Champions League game while playing less than 15 minutes.

Sing it with me. That's Amar'e!

 


Team of the Week

Rather than just selecting All-Star Five kind of team, allow me to select an actual team as the team of the week. This time, it's time for a history lesson: There were three brothers in the ancient Roman times, Jupiter, Pluto and Neptune. It was decided that the "ill-tempered and violent Neptune" would rule the sea. And, some 2000 years later, the Basketball Champions League too.

I keep warning you about Neptunas in the Power Rankings, because they are a much better team than their 2-2 record suggests. They are well-coached, I'll let Diccon Lloyd-Smeath explain that part, and beautifully balanced with a smart point guard in Lorenzo Williams, with the high-energy duo of Jerai Grant and Kyle Weaver, with JJ Redick's 36-year-old carbon copy called Tomas Delininkaitis.

 
They handed SIG Strasbourg their first defeat of the season, scored 92 points against a team that held Besiktas to 71, Bayreuth to 63 and Olimpija to 71. And it must have felt sweet, because Strasbourg were the ones to knock them out last season, in the Round of 16.

The only reason to remain skeptical about their long-run chances is the fact that we've seen this before. Neptunas start the season strong, then lose guys like Jimmy Baron or Arnas Butkevicius mid-season and fall apart. I guess that's the ill-tempered and violent part of being Neptune.



The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

The Basketball Champions League's takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is Basketball Champions League's writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Live Blog coverage of the games and sorting out the teams on Mondays, in the Power Rankings. When he's not watching basketball, he's commentating Croatian Second Division soccer games for TV.